Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome 2010!

I am looking forward to 2010 for a lot of different reasons. I feel like 2009 has been a year of preparation and beginnings and that, by default, 2010 will be an extension and an improvement on those beginnings.

My real estate career in Sunshineville began this year. I've worked very hard to lay the groundwork for my future career. I've learned a ton and I've got ten times as much left to learn. I'm getting there.

I started my novel and hope that by doing a little bit at a time, I will be able to finish it this coming year. Maybe. We'll see how motivated I get.

I've started (slowly) doing better things for my body. I make an attempt every day to drink water. I have yet to hit the magic "eight glasses", but each ounce I drink is one that I wouldn't normally. I have been averaging two times a week of some sort of exercise. This may not sound like a lot, and it's really not, but again, for every time I do exercise, it's one more time than I have done previously. I still struggle daily with the amount of coffee I consume. I was getting down to what most people would consider a normal amount (okay, high normal) until we had guests in our house over the weekend. Four extra people, all of whom consume coffee, in my house for almost four days. It's amazing how quickly I fall off the wagon when surrounded by other addicts.

We didn't do many (read "any") improvements on our home this year but we've been planning several projects for the coming year. We will most likely be painting the exterior of our house in the early spring. We'd like to put a pergola on the back of the house off of our bedroom. There are several wiring projects Mister C would like to do as well. Unfortunately, his wiring projects always cause me to have to do drywall repair and painting so I'm kind of hoping that he doesn't get around to these particular projects.

The biggest change in our home has been the change in Master J. He has blossomed this year. He's been getting progressively better. At least until he went on Christmas break. Now, he needs to get himself back to school and back into progressing forward.

So I guess we'll see what 2010 brings us. But I really think it is going to be a great year. May you all be blessed with a wonderful, prosperous year full of friends, family, fun and new experiences. See you next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It can't be that far off...

It's been kind of gray around here the last few days. Grayness makes me not feel as chipper as I normally do. It drags me down. It reminds me why I live in Sunshineville in the first place. While I dislike the few gray days we get around here, I also recognize that the majority of my friends are dealing with much worse weather than I what with the blizzards and generally crappy weather they've had the past few weeks. So this post is for them as well as for me. A little bit of color from last spring at the Desert Botanical Gardens. This is as close as we'll get to the blooming season for a few months, so enjoy...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope your day was filled with joy, family and friends, or at the very least that it was memorable for it's moments of chaos and mayhem...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

What we were trying...

The reality...

What we ended up with...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Festivus!

That's right, today is December 23rd the traditional day for the celebration of Festivus! Woo Hoo! I'm looking forward to the airing of grievances and I've been practicing for the Feats of Strength for the past hour or so. Let's all hope for a Festivus Miracle! Happy Festivus!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blond moment #1057

So earlier today, Mamoo informed me that Master J had mentioned that he had seen a swear word on my phone. I assume it was from a text message I had received at some point, most likely from a certain friend (hi Brandy!) Anyway, there's been some issue with a little boy liking to "help" his mom by fetching her phone for her when she gets a text message. Apparently his intent is really to be just a tad bit of a busy body. I don't like him to read my messages though. Not because they are generally so full of interesting new curse words or anything either. Honestly if we're trying to prevent the acquisition of new foul language I'm going to have to go on a speaking hiatus. No, it's really more of a "it's none of your business what my business is" issue. So I got smart. I went into my fancy phone and set it so there's no "preview" of text messages when they come in. I need to go into the little text icon to fetch my message. Aren't I just the brightest little thing? Fast forward several hours. I sent a text to a friend to let her know I hadn't forgotten her. I immediately got back a text from her. When I picked up my phone and looked at the screen, I shook my head and said to Mister C "What the hell? Brandy just sent me a text message and do you know what it says? It just says "text message". What do you think that means?"

To which he replied "That you have a text message you need to go in and read?"

And again I am reminded that Mister C really has front row seats to his own comedy show. He just sits back and waits to see what I'll say next.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

One is the loneliest number...

At least according to Papa it is. See these two adorable puppies playing nicely together? The one in the back, the one that's standing on the other one? That's the female that my folks decided on last week.

This one here? That's her brother. The one being beat on in the above photo. The one that they decided they had to adopt as well. Because they didn't want the first one to be lonely.

I didn't get it from strangers.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sun Dried Shirt

There's just something about a white shirt drying in the sun that makes me smile.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Naming convention

After watching our dog "ADHD Girl" pick up and eat a piece of fuzz from the floor...

Master J: We should have named her something else.
Mirth: Like what?
Master J: It would be pronounced "en-ak-wil" but it would be spelled e-n-a-q-u-e-l
Mirth: Enaquel? What the heck does that mean?
Master J: Eat Now, Ask QUEstions Later.
Mirth: Huh. That probably would have been a better fitting name.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Christmas Letter

Greetings from Mirthville. Normally at this time of year I would be sitting down and pecking out a lovely Christmas letter about all the great things that have happened over the year. I would use my awesome creative skills and photo-shop prowess to incorporate some adorable pictures into the letter. And then, I will never send it out. Because I will get distracted by candy and shiny things.

Since I am no dummy and I am one hundred percent sure that I will also not send out this year’s letter, I have decided to go a different route. This year, I will write the Christmas letter that I have been unable (for censorship reasons) to write in previous years. The one you always wish people would send, because honestly most holiday letters are so sappy I could cover my pancakes in them and not tell the difference.

So here goes…

In January, I went back to school to get my real estate license. Let’s see, the market is crashing and burning like an oil tanker on icy roads, there’s already enough licensed agents in the county to sell Rhode Island twice and the banks are offering 1% commissions on a lot of the homes they acquired. Good timing isn’t the word I’m looking for. Maybe more like comedic timing. Also, we acquired our idiot, growth challenged orange tabby. Because apparently I had two seconds of down time and thought I needed some chaos.

In February, Mister C & I made a day trip up to the Grand Canyon on my least favorite “holiday” of the year. We weren’t going because it was romantic, we were going because Mister C got peeved at the rangers for not giving him hiking permits that he kept requesting. He thought he’d have a better chance in person and he was right. We left there with permits acquired, and a new found appreciation for why we don’t eat green potatoes. We also went to San Xavier del Bac and the Tucson Botanical Gardens, which were incredibly awesome.

In March, Master J turned eight and requested a cake shaped like a bucket of popcorn. I managed to pull it off and he was thrilled. He also started his regime of coffee consumption this month. Great results and I highly recommend it be tried prior to medication for kids with ADHD (along with other diet/environmental controls). The fact that my eight year old looks like unionized iron worker taking his thermos to school every day is just a bonus.

March was also a big month for purchases. I got my Mac laptop, which I adore, and my new Nikon “big girl” camera, which I would probably give my left eye for. If that didn’t completely skeeve me out with horror and gyrations worthy of belly dancer on crack. Shudder! (ha, ha) Anyway, all puns aside, this camera makes me look like I actually know how to take a decent photo most days.

I passed my real estate exams, both the ones at the school, and the state ones. I’d heard so much about how difficult these things were. People telling me they had failed them multiple times before passing. The instructors talking about how only something like 20% of people pass the school exam on the first time. Really? That scares me. I passed everything on the first time. I’m no genius but I seriously thought all of the tests were pretty straight forward and honestly, easy. It scares me that 80% of the people that had to sit through ninety hours of classroom instruction couldn’t turn around a pass the exam a week later. It scares me more that these same people continue to take the exam until they pass and then go out and write contracts. On a very sad note, this was also the month that we had to have our beloved Dalmatian euthanized after she went into congestive heart failure. Life sometimes sucks really badly.

In April, it was my birthday. The whole month was all about me and how awesome I am. People catered to my every want and need and bowed down before me. At least in my mind they did. In reality? Same shit, different month. Actually there is one big thing that happened in the month of April…I met my first real estate clients and climbed on board the crazy train being driven by the wife of this pair. You know when people say someone is “certifiable”? Ever met one of those certifiable people? Try not to. It’s incredibly effin draining to try and stay sane when the person sitting across from you is anything but. The conversations can be appallingly fragmented and convoluted. In a nutshell, when you walk away from them you need to check yourself to make sure you’re still rational.

In May, Master J finished up the second grade in much better condition than he started it at Midwest Loser Elementary. He also lost his first tooth. My baby is growing up. At the end of the month, Mister C & I went to the Chihuly exhibit at the botanical gardens and I got to put my new camera to work. If I had thought to bring a billy club it would have gotten a great work out as well. I’m still trying to figure out how every person in the entire county was able to attend on the same day. Also, why they all felt the need to get in my effin way. Seriously people, move!

June had highs and lows in real estate. I held my first open house on a home that later went to auction. I actually went to the auction and while I wouldn’t recommend it for trying to acquire a home, I would definitely go for the entertainment value. Here’s a hint though, bring snacks. Or a big stack of money to buy some of theirs. This open house is where I met a client that turned into a friend. She ended up with the house after a whole lot of pain in the ass that occurred over the next few months. This is also the month that the previously mentioned crazy train came crashing off the tracks at the closing table. Good times were had by all.

July is the scene of the second crazy train wreck of the year, although this one was more expected. We made our crazcation to my in-laws house for the holiday festivities. We had a big blow up and big insanity that got turned into a fantastic cross country trip with Mister C, Master J & I getting to see a whole bunch of landmarks between Fargo and Phoenix. After getting back from that trip, we headed back to the airport to go visit my Aunt Ninny in Baltimore. We wanted to see what pancreatic cancer looks like while it’s getting its ass kicked. So far, “PC” is looking like that skanky ho that shows up already drunk at the bar in flip flops and a tank top whose strap is giving in to gravity. She ain’t very pretty and she starts a lot of shit, but if you beat on her long enough she’ll go find an easier bar patron to bother.

In August, Master J started the third grade. And we acquired Satan from the humane society. I bet you didn’t know she was euphemistically referred to as “Ladybug” while enjoying her stay in the kennels. And yes, Satan is a female. She’s about thirty-five pounds of brindled chaos that adores Master J. This is the month where we discovered that honeybees suck big time and cost a lot of money to remove. Also, this is the month I really started to hate “Tank of Ta Bearica” as they too are the Devil’s own little minions.

In September, Mister C went back to work for Charles Schwab. Thank God. That whole “working from home” bullshit? Yeah, not so much. More like “sitting around in my sweats, watching the stock market, grazing in the fridge & annoying my lovely wife”. Working from home, pshaw! That phrase should be banned, at least from my house.

Another thing we figured out this month is that if Satan can’t read a book, she eats it. This was an expensive lesson for Master J since, being the mean mother I am, I made him pay the library for the destroyed books (yes, plural). My logic being that he left them lying on the floor for her to find so he was responsible. Please note that both instances happened on Mister Cs watch. One more thing, I backed into a cop car this month. Someone just needs to take my license and be done with it.

October was a busy month for us. Between picking a costume for Master J, fighting with “Tank of Ta Bearica” about ridiculous things and carving pumpkins, the time just flew by. It seemed to go quicker since we had to throw out our pumpkins early due to the overwhelming fuzzy green mold that grew rampantly throughout them. Also, Satan ate a quarter of Master J’s pumpkin while we were cleaning up the mess from the carving. Amazingly she did not get sick. But she did have pumpkin breath for a few days, which was kind of unpleasant. Speaking of Satan, she started obedience classes this month. They did not work.

November was a pleasant month all around. The weather was beautiful, Satan continued flunking out of puppy obedience and I started writing a novel that I so far have not finished. Probably because I keep getting distracted with other things like long, drawn out Christmas letters that will never get mailed. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner that got passed back and forth between houses until finally landing on my doorstep two days prior due to illness in Papa. Thankfully Mamoo had already purchased the turkey and most of the other things so really all I had to do was to prepare a few items. I was supposed to make a pumpkin pie but I guess if you wait until the day before to go find the ingredients, and there’s some sort of shortage of pumpkins due to an unusually wet summer and mold (hmmmmm) you might not be able to make the pie. And then, you might have to buy one at the store for too much money but really, does it matter? Because there was pie on the Thanksgiving table, so shut up already and be thankful.

Which brings us to December. My favorite month. I love driving around listening to the “all Christmas music” station. While looking out at blue skies and gently waving palm trees. I like wearing open toed high heels and short- sleeved shirts while humming “White Christmas” to myself. Yes I do. I love me a Sunshineville Christmas season. Screw the snow. I don’t have to shovel the sunshine my friend, I just sit back and enjoy it. Also, the angels must have been smiling on Satan because she actually managed to pass her puppy obedience class. I was floored that she managed it. I think it had more to do with the fact that they didn’t make us do the whole meet and greet thing with other dogs in order to pass.

So that’s it, that’s our year wrapped up. No awards won. No fabulous vacations to far away lands. Nobody in this house got married or had any babies. No big promotions or huge bonuses. Just a typical year of chaos and mayhem in Mirthville.

Merry Christmas with Love from
Mirth, Mister C & Master J

I'm not sure why he always looks like he just woke up...

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is not my puppy!

But I did have a hand in her acquisition. This gorgeous pup who apparently loves her food (check her nose), will belong to my parents on January 3rd. She's a standard poodle puppy that so far remains nameless. My sister and I helped Mamoo and Papa decide on this particular pup from the litter of eleven. There will be further updates on this one, I guarantee it! How can you resist that face?

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's a Thingy!

So, after much searching, I found a tree topper like the one of my own sweet youth. It's called the "Bradford Carillon Spire Tree Topper with Angel Hair" and was from the 1950s - 60s. The photo below is of the tree topper I remember that is being offered on etsy by Carmen & Ginger, a blog for the vintage lover in all of us.

You can still get them on ebay and other auction sites, but they all seem to have other colors along with the silver. I only remember it being solid silver but my memory could be faulty. Also, most of them are missing one or all of the bells that hung on the topper. The other thing is that some of them are the "electrified" version, they plug in. Ours definitely did not plug in.

I asked Mister C if I could buy one and he said fine but the problem was finding one exactly as I remember. It's really unfortunate that the original is gone as it was (in retrospect) probably the thing I most remember about the Christmases of my childhood.

So that's it for my trip down memory lane. If I find an exact replica I will probably buy it just because. I guess I'd like to pass on the tradition. Which tradition is that you ask? The one of "Oh look! It's the tree topper thingy! What the heck is this thing supposed to be anyway? Oh, you don't know either? Okay. Hey Dad, can you put the thingy on top? Oooohhhh!" Master J would totally get into it, I just know it.

Santa's Little Helpers

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year

When I was a little girl, I loved the Christmas season. Setting up the tree, hanging our stockings, Christmas music, relatives coming over and lots and lots of food.

Having to sort out the branches of our plastic tree ("Is that red paint or orange on that tip?") was a big portion of the setting up of the tree. Mom would always string the lights and us kids could barely contain ourselves until she was done so we could hang the ornaments. We each had our own special ornaments, given to us every year by Mom. When we were finally done with the ornaments, we'd wrap the whole thing in silver garland. As a final touch, Dad would put the silver, uh, thingy on top. We didn't have a star or an angel. It was a, well I don't know what the hell it was. It was silver though, and it had a big round part that was open on two sides. That round thing was full of some sort of asbestos insulation I think. And then we would shove one of the lights up inside it and the asbestos would glow creating a magical feeling of awe. Either that or we were overcome by toxic fumes. Anyway, it was magical.

Things have been modified slightly in my own house. We get a real tree every year so that Master J can have the fun of helping to pick it out. I string the lights myself while Master J waits impatiently nearby asking when he can start hanging the ornaments. We gave up using garland early in our marriage due to the horror of having cats running throught the house with shiny silver ribbons trailing from their backsides. But most importantly, I don't have a silver, roundy, stuffed full of asbestos thingy to put on top of my tree. I think I have an angel, but I haven't found it yet this year. I really miss the thingy. Wonder whatever happened to it?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Honoring those that were there

*for those who don't recognize the image in the photo, it's the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. It's a bit of an abstract photo, but at the time I was trying to avoid the hordes of tourists that were there.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Looks like he found the timer on his camera

Friday, December 4, 2009

I think that rounds out the list

Mister C and I have started hiking again on one of the local "mountains". According to Mister C, this particular mountain is only about four hundred feet high so this is more about distance than height. But in the past, we've hiked some of the other mountains around the valley. Some of them are known far and wide and people actually travel here specifically to hike one particular one. I have not made it to the top of that one. I will say that I have made it to the top of all of the other ones I have attempted. Slowly, but I've made it. But this isn't a post about my accomplishments. No, this is a post about humility.

I'll just come right out and admit that I'm not in the best shape of anyone I've ever met. I'm carrying a few (thirty) extra pounds and I absolutely abhor cardiovascular workouts. I avoid them whenever possible. I'd pretty much rather do anything than to go on a hike. I do it because it's something Mister C and I can do together several times a week. Also, it's something that once I'm done, I can feel good that I did. But I suck at it.

In my hiking career over the past eight years that we've lived around this area, I have managed to be passed by almost every person or group out there. I fully expect to be passed by the 18-50 set and the exercise maniacs (hi Dad!). But everyone? Think I'm joking? Not so much. In order of occurrence...

The first time I was passed on a mountain was by a group of cub scouts. What's the maximum age for a cub scout anyway? Eight? Maybe nine? Regardless, a group of kids effectively politely asked me to move my slow self aside so they could skip up the mountain. I believe I was about halfway up the mountain at that time. They passed me again on their way down. Impudent little whippersnappers. I thought they were supposed to help old ladies across streets and stuff. Apparently not when she's blocking the trail.

The second time I was passed was on the same mountain. The same day. But this was no group of half-pint holy terrors. No, this was even worse. The dreaded senior citizens hiking club. Oh yes, my friend, I said senior citizens. Don't let their wrinkled skin and soft demeanor fool you. They look harmless, but the golden agers have no sympathy for a plump and winded woman of less than middle age that's laying on a rock, gasping for air. They take great pleasure in walking past my inert form saying such seemingly kind things as "You'll be fine dear, just catch your breath and don't give up!" Screw you old lady, I know you're gleefully telling stories to all your luncheon biddies about how you breezed right past me. I would have tried to find you later to try and explain my situation, but I doubt I could identify you since I was seeing spots at the time we met.

Which leads me to the next group of people. The morbidly obese. I have nothing but good things to say about this group as a whole. The fact that they're out there, trying to do better is awesome. The fact that they stop to make sure I'm okay while I'm (once again) gasping for air on the side of the trail is a testament to the fact that they've "been there". They understand where I'm at. The fact that they aren't even breathing hard gives me hope for my future. The fact that they were hiking uphill while I was going down is just pathetic.

Now, one would think that covers pretty much every group out there that has passed me on a mountain. One would be sadly mistaken. Because yesterday I got passed once again. At least this time I was upright and moving forward, albeit slowly. I didn't think too much of it when I heard dogs panting behind me, I just stepped aside so they could pass. The owner was a younger woman walking three dogs. The first dog was a young beagle, a very energetic beagle. The second dog was about a ten year old lab mix. The third dog was some sort of terrier mix. No problem right? It's pretty normal to be passed by someone younger than me with dogs. I thought so too. Until I noticed that the terrier was missing a back leg. No lie. I have now officially hit bottom. I've been passed by everyone, including a three legged dog. Nice. I swear if I see someone coming up behind me in a wheelchair I'm going to roll a boulder across the trail.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I think that about covers how the whole experience went.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My cat's logic, or lack thereof

I thought that cats were supposed to have a method for figuring out whether or not they will be able to fit their lard asses into a space. No? Because the Hooligan evidently is missing the equipment for this task. I found him trying to jam himself into a space that there's no way he should even consider trying to get into. Lucky for me, I also have my camera ready at these inopportune (for him) times.

Realizing he won't fit, and trying to back out gracefully...

Trying to shake off the embarrassment

Checking again, could he fit this time?

Thankfully he didn't attempt another jam session. Because honestly, I would have totally continued taking pictures rather than save him from his own idiocy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Slow road to somewhere

I'm waaaaay behind on my novel. I did manage to get a few more words down on paper (or computer as the case may be) so at least I'm working in the right direction. I'll give you a small snippet of a conversation between two of my characters. Without a back story it won't be much use to you, but what the heck I'll let you suffer along with me. You don't know where it's coming from and I don't know where it's going.

“So where are you taking me?”

“I thought we’d drive around for a bit, get to know each other a little better.” This surprises me but I try not to show it when I respond to him.

“My suspicion is that you already know more than you should about me and I know not nearly enough about you so maybe you should go first.”

“Well, let’s see, I’m twenty three years old, six foot five, two hundred thirty five pounds and I’m an Aquarius.”

“This isn’t e-match Romeo, I don’t need your stats. I need to know what makes you tick.”

“Beautiful, independent, smart women who make a living collecting would be on the top of the list.”

“Again, not a dating resume. Also, again, I’m old enough to be your mom.”

“Only if you were a teen mother.”

“Either way, the facts still stand. So, how did you get to be a collector?”

“That’s a long story for another day. How bout we start with something a little easier?”

“Fair enough. From your earlier reference, I’m going to make a wild guess that you went to ASU, so what did you major in?”

“I ended up with a Master of Architecture degree.”

“You “ended up with”? You make is sound like you went to get ice cream and they accidently screwed up your order with a Master’s degree. I could see how someone might “end up with” a degree in something like women’s studies or interior design. But not architecture, that takes effort.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So that's that

Tank of Ta Bearica managed to completely eff my clients over. Remember when I said they wouldn't finance my Brooklynites because of the 90 day fix and flip rule for FHA loans? Well amazingly, even though that's what they told me and my clients, that's not what they put in the file. No, when they filed the FHA denial, they put down every reason EXCEPT for the one technically valid one they orally gave. They said they denied for the following:

1. Instability of income
2. Inadequacy of income
3. Delinquent credit
4. Inadequacy of available assets

I'll deal with them in order:

1. The preference for lenders is that buyers be in their jobs for at least two years. Dad has worked at the same job for over eight years. Son has only worked at his job for just under three years. Of course, that could be because he's only 20.

2. While I don't know their exact incomes, I do know that starting income for Dad's job is $45k per year (see above where he's worked for them for eight years.) Based on what I know, I believe the son makes about 2/3 of what Dad does. They have minimal debt. No money owed on cars, no credit card issues. Together, they should easily qualify for more than the $110,000 price of the home they were trying to buy.

3. The delinquent credit belonged to the dad's soon to be ex wife. Unfortunately since they are still legally married and it's a community property state, this one is a little tougher (but not impossible) to work around.

4. I'm not sure where this one came from at all. My clients had the down payment and the closing costs readily available. And they have the ability via their income to easily make the payment.

So what gives? Why would Tank of Ta Bearica put these as the reasons they denied the loan instead of the reason they gave us? Are they just trying to cover their backsides with excessive reasons in case they are questioned? Did they mix up some files and put the wrong reasons on the wrong file? Are they really just that incompetent? (That's the one I lean towards.)

So why does this matter at all? Because it's an FHA loan. And those reasons, those made up reasons regarding my clients? They stay with my client for the next six months. That's right. Six months of bs reasons for a denial of a loan. My clients are now completely screwed and will not qualify for an FHA loan again for the next six months.

I hate that bank and will make it a point to spread that message to any and all future clients to the best of my ability. They should have been allowed to go under when we had the opportunity. Instead, we're paying them 20 billion to eff up my client's and my life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Well that was fun...

So I took my dog to her Monday night very basic training for the fifth (sixth?) time tonight.

Earlier today, I put her through all that we've learned so far. We were outside at the time, off lead. And she did very, very well. She sat, she stayed, she lay down, she did a down stay, she came when called, she spun in circles and danced on her hind legs. All on command. It was amazing. I could not wait to get to class to show all the progress we made.

Apparently, somewhere in the parking lot of the training facility, her brain fell out. I'm not even kidding. I watched her IQ drop as we neared the entry, and it just plummeted further the longer we were there.

She couldn't stay to save her life. Hell, she couldn't even figure out how to sit anymore. Walking nicely next to me? Not hardly. Evidently she couldn't figure out what that invisible force was that was holding her back and causing her to choke. Forget about getting her to lay down. But it managed to go even further downhill from there.

Today's new lesson was on how to properly "greet" a strange dog. Oh boy.

First, we have to establish if the other dog is friendly or not. We do this by asking the owner "Is you dog friendly?" If they answer affirmatively, we have to explain that we're trying to allow our dog to do a quick greeting as part of their training. I suspect we're not supposed to reply that our dog is decidedly NOT friendly and perhaps they should move their wussy dog out of our way so we can get back to the training room where it's safe. Whatever. We allow our dogs to touch noses and then move on. If either dog shows any sign of aggression, we're supposed to step between them, turn our dog away and walk away until she calms down.

If they answer negatively, we don't allow them to greet at all, we just go look for the next vict.., er dog.

So what happens if the owner is a clueless idiot who doesn't know what qualifies a dog as "friendly" to other dogs? Well, then Cujo comes out to play.

The first dog we asked to greet was an old, overweight pug. His eyes were busy looking in different directions so I was pretty confident that even if he wasn't nice, I wouldn't have a problem pulling my dog back. But he was really sweet and not at all aggressive. The dogs touched noses, the pug peed on a nearby shelf, and we moved on.

The next dog we asked to greet was a young, very exuberant pit bull mix that had no manners at all. We were told that she was "friendly" but I don't think they understood what we were looking for. Because the dog growled at my dog and put her paw on my dog's head. And my girl? Well...if she could speak it would have been:

"Bitch! What the hell was that? Did you just put your foot on my head? Oh no! No, you did NOT just put your damn foot on my head! I will KILL you! Kill you until you are dead!"

Only in all capital letters and with more attitude. And then I had to walk to far corner of the store with my dog yelling threats and throwing gang signs back at the other dog the entire way. I think that went as well as expected.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why a pitbull should never be left alone with a cat...

They cannot be trusted to follow basic rules of good citizenship...

They cannot be expected to make good decisions...

They have voracious appetites...

And worst of all, they may even join the evil cat in her exploits...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just a few tidbits from Master J

At home...

MJ (while looking closely at my eyes): Hey, your eyes are different colors.
Me: They're called hazel.
MJ: They're green and brown.
Me: Yep.
MJ (thinking): Are you deaf?
Me: What? Why would you think that?
MJ: Because when animals have two colored eyes, they're usually deaf.
Me: Oh. Well, that usually applies to white cats or dogs and each eye is a different color. One eye needs to be blue for that to happen.
MJ: Oh. So you're not deaf?
Me: No.
MJ: Yeah, I didn't think so.

Out at dinner tonight, Mister C was discussing putting speakers in "every room of the house", annnnddd go...

MJ: No way. I don't want that!
MC: Why not? Wouldn't it be great to be able to hear music throughout the house?
Me: No.
MC: What? How can you not think that would be awesome?
Me: I'll let Master J tell you. Go ahead Master J.
MJ: Because then all you'll do is make us listen to your bad music in every room. I don't want that. What's the word for that Mom?
Me: Torture.
MJ: Yeah, torture.
MC: Someday Master J you will appreciate the fact that your dad loves toys.
MJ: Not if I have to listen to your music in my room. Say it with me on three Mom. One, two, three.
Both of us: Torture!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

Other than the eyes staring back, I think she does a pretty good imitation of a turkey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you Veterans

Two of the three gentlemen in this photo deserve our thanks for helping to retain the freedoms we so enjoy in our daily lives. I'm sure that everyone out there has at least one person they know that deserves some extra gratitude today. Thank you to all that have served, are currently serving or will serve in the future.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Captain obvious, hard at work

I buy deli meat every week for my son & husband to have in their lunches. Mister C insists on turkey, Master J prefers ham. I almost always buy the same kind of ham because Master J really likes it. Mister C has eaten this same ham numerous times. And yet, his powers of observation (or lack thereof) never cease to amaze me. Case in point...

Mister C (while cooking ham & eggs): Every time I cook with this ham it smells like I'm cooking maple syrup.

Me: Umm, that's because it's maple glazed honey ham.

Mister C: What? Why would you start buying that all of a sudden?

Me: I've been buying it for over a year because it's what Master J likes.

Mister C: Well I don't like it. You should just buy regular ham.

Me: Or, you could just eat the turkey that you insist you prefer.

Mister C (eating and mumbling to himself): It tastes like maple syrup.

I'm not sure which is worse: that he apparently has no taste buds, or that he eats something he insists he doesn't prefer at all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Small Arizona castle for sale

So I dragged Mamoo through a neat foreclosure this morning. I've driven past this particular property many times since it's fairly close to my parent's home. Yesterday while driving home from picking up Master J I noticed a for sale sign in front of the house. I checked it out on the mls when I got home and figured out pretty quickly that it was a bank owned and vacant. I immediately made plans with Mamoo to stop by this morning.

So there are a few things to note about this property that make it somewhat unusual.

First of all, it's built so that the back half of the house is about four feet underground. So while the outside temperature was around 92 degrees when we visited, the interior was closer to 70 degrees. What makes this more interesting is that because this is a bank owned property the electricity has been turned off, thus, no a/c.

Secondly, there is actually a tower, the exterior is seen in the first photo below. To get to the tower you need to walk up two short flights of stairs. The stairs are open and really high so care is needed walking up them. I only know this because I tripped up them and scuffed my elbow on the wall. At the top of the stairs is a room that is about twelve feet square with circle windows overlooking the area. There's also a ladder that goes up to the roof of this room so you can hang a flag on the very top of the tower.

Third, that wall that bit me above? Appears to be about foot thick adobe. That probably helps with the temperature control and utility bills as well. Those thick walls also helps with the noise control. Even with mostly tile floors and no furniture to absorb sound, it was really quiet throughout the house.

Lastly, this house was made for parties, big ones. There's a huge family room that's open to both the kitchen and the huge covered patio that overlooks an over sized fire pit area. It could easily accommodate a party of 50 people.

Now obviously since this is a bank owned property it has it's issues. One obvious thing is that there is roof leak over the kitchen area that has caused a lot of damage to the ceiling. There's deferred maintenance of the landscaping that's going to take a lot of physical effort to bring back. Typical of all bank owned property it needs paint, flooring and bleach. But it's not nearly so bad as most of them and it's sitting on a huge lot. And seriously, it's got a castle theme!

Here's what the property looks like from the street.

Here's the solid wood, crazily detailed front door. You won't find another door like this around town.

The hand carved chandelier that hangs in the foyer/tower. The dust comes standard with most castles, this one is no exception.

Over sized fireplace in the family room.

Front stairs, main door is on the first level to the right. The open stairs to the far right go up to the tower room. The wooden area in the top left is the bottom of the walkway between the two flights of stairs going up to the tower. The walkway has a door that goes out to the roof over the family room.

Party patio!

The kitchen and family room. The water damaged ceiling is over the island

The family room, the front door is opposite the fireplace

The other front door. This door leads into the other bedrooms.

Master bathroom

Monday, November 2, 2009


Because I have nothing else to do with my time, I have joined this year's nanowrimo. This is a yearly deal held in the month of November wherein idiots like myself attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Good times right? I know, I know, I can barely keep on top of writing a blog entry on a regular basis but this will different. Maybe. If I'm lucky that is. I started writing this morning before I dropped Master J off to school. While I won't tell you what the novel is about or print it here (you're welcome), I will give you a snippet every once in a while. Today's snippet is:

This was never going to work. All I had in my car was a shoestring, a map of Sun City and yesterday’s leftover donuts in a bag.

Now back to the grindstone for me, because so far, I've written exactly 2.75% of the novel.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trying to "train out" the obnoxiousness

I'm trying like hell to train my goofy dog. We've been to three classes now and I have to say that I'm not nearly so impressed with this particular trainer as I have been with previous trainers we've gone to. She's sweet and she means well, but I think she's too young and she's moving way too slow.

Case in point, we're still working on learning to sit after three weeks. Three weeks, of sit. No, seriously. I think the dog has it by now. I mean, at this point I can put her in a sit, walk away, walk toward, stop, back up, take a step to either side, wave my hands around and walk back and she doesn't move. I think we got it.

She already knew the command "drop it" before ever entering class. She should, she's only heard it 3,000 times since we got her. "Drop the shoe!", "Drop the rock!", "Drop the cat's head!". You know, the usual.

She already knows "Leave it" as well since it's another favorite of ours. That one gets used if we actually see her about to pick up any or all of the previously mentioned items.

So at the end of the day, I've spent three Monday evenings working on teaching my dog to sit. And the class is only 8 weeks long.

Which is why I've started working on the other important things myself. Things like coming when called which is only THE most important thing the dog can do. And not jumping on people when you greet them. Surprisingly, most people aren't real thrilled to have a 35 pound pit using them as a springboard for her antics. And she's doing pretty good with these.

But the one that's killing her is having to lay down. Because she cannot contain herself. She gets down there in the down position and then she starts vibrating, which is the precursor to the butt wiggle, which finally ends in her bouncing up and grinning at me. Yeah, we got a lot of work ahead of us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Force Was With Him

My goodness my child came home with a TON of candy. I mean, the big popcorn bowl we use to hand out the candy got refilled after the lights went out with the candy Master J scored on his tour with Mister C and Papa. And the kids in our neighborhood were out in force this year as well. Most of them were well behaved and polite, which was great. Only two kids annoyed me enough that I told them to move along. We got hit with a bunch of kids at one time and while I was passing out candy to the ones that showed up first, these two boys pushed their way up and started screaming "TRICK OR TREAT! TRICK OR TREAT!" really loud right next to me. I kind of ignored them at first, handing candy to the kids that had gotten there first. Then I gave the one boy candy thinking he would move along. But no, he kept screaming at me. I finally got peeved enough to turn to him and say "I already gave you candy now get going" and he left. But really, what the hell? I didn't see that particular kid's parents and maybe that was the problem. Because if I took my child to a house and he pulled that, his butt would be home in bed immediately following the apology to whoever was handing out the candy. That's just out of control rudeness gone riot. But as I said, those were the only two that gave me pause. Most of the kids were fantastic. Even the teenagers were really well mannered this year and I think that's just awesome. So, to all the parents that are doing their best to raise polite kids "Thank you!" It sure made handing out candy more pleasant. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mortgage brokers vs Banks

Which is better? Both will tell you that they're the best and that borrowers should use them. So who to believe?

Before we go to the differences, let's look at the the things that are alike...

1.) Both have a variety of loans available to borrowers.
2.) Both offer comparable interest rates (if you shop around).
3.) Both have the ability to help people buy homes.

Now on to the differences...

1.) Loan officers get a set salary, mortgage brokers get paid a fee for each loan that closes.

Some people might perceive this as a point in the banks favor saying that banks aren't just pushing anything through to get paid. True, but they also have no motivation to get good loans through either.

2.) Banks can only offer you what they have, brokers can shop around for the best deal for you.

3.) Banks go "by the book", brokers go "however they lawfully can". In other words, a bank deal can go south for the smallest glitch while a broker will generally work a whole lot harder to figure out how to make it work.

4.) If your mortgage broker does a great job taking care of you, you will (hopefully) recommend them to people you know and therefor bring more business (and money) to that person.

The bank employed loan officer can have the best (or worst) service ever and except for missing out on bonuses, it doesn't really affect their paycheck. Their base salary stays the same.

I think a lot of people are so conditioned to using banks that they don't even think about using a mortgage broker and that's really too bad. At the end of the day, the banker works for the bank and therefore has the banks best interests in mind. The mortgage broker works for the borrower and has their best interest in mind.

For my money, I'm betting on the brokers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Now that's scary!

Check out the pumpkins we carved.

The one of the left is mine, it's supposed to be a pathetic version of Edvard Munch's "The Scream".

The one in the middle is Mister C's. I don't know what it's supposed to be, other than the end product of the pumpkin seed harvest.

Lastly, we have Master J's creation. He achieved this look with some help. But not the kind of help normally offered. No, that big gaping hole you see? Yeah that's the work of the incorrigible Izzy. Note to self, don't leave pumpkins on the floor after carving.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Carving the pumpkins

Mister C loves, loves, loves pumpkin seeds. Master J hates, hates, hates the smell of pumpkin "guts". Makes for an interesting photo op.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Catching some rays

Some animals look all "film noir" in their sunbathing...

and some look all "mafia hit, no witnesses".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Mister C & I had Master J's parent/teacher conference today after school. It went really well. Academically he's doing great, as expected. Behavior wise, he's continuing to improve. In fact, he's doing much better, which is awesome. He's started slacking off on raising his hand this past week, but that is really pretty minor when we look back to previous behavior. So again I'd like to give a shout out to the school system here in the valley of the sun. We may not rate very high on those stupid polls (which is a whole 'nuther post), but I can tell you from first hand experience that they rock. I am grateful every day that we moved out of the Midwest and back to our beloved sunshine and happiness state. And as for you,Loser Elementary, just because Master J didn't fit your mold and his rotten mother wouldn't back down from your closed minded bs, does not mean you had to right to try and pigeonhole my kid into special education. He didn't need special ed, he needed to be challenged intellectually. And honestly, you can kiss my sun-warmed behind.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fresh start

So my Brooklynites are shed of their lender "Tank of Ta Bearica". Not of their choosing, but a good thing nonetheless. We've been struggling with the lender almost since day one.

On day one, it was all roses & unicorns shooting rainbows out their butts. It's gone downhill since then. I wasn't enamored of Tank of Ta Bearica to begin with, I've dealt with them before. They've screwed with my clients before. I don't think they offer good service. I don't think they are looking out for the interest of their customers. I don't like them.

But my clients came to me with them and it's not my place to tell them they couldn't use their own bank. What I did say was that I hadn't had good results with them in the past, but that maybe this gal would be different. Not so much.

So far, the non-responsiveness of the gal is the least of the problems. But she didn't know me. I will track you down. I will use different phones to call you if I have to. I will use every number you give me and every email address (in a five minute period) as well if I need information. See, I think if you're my clients bank that you should give us updates as to where we are at in the process. If you have an automatic email that gets sent out every week to tell us where we're at, that's fine. Just give us something. But if you're not going to update us on some regular schedule, for the love of Pete DO NOT AVOID MY OR MY CLIENT'S CALLS! Are you kidding me? To not answer the phone or return a call because you don't have anything new to tell me? Or even worse, to avoid calling me or my client because something bad has happened and you don't want to deal with it?

That last sentence is correct. On two different occasions this gal didn't call when something went wrong. It wasn't until I got a hold of her that I heard. The first was the low appraisal issue. I didn't get a call or an email. It wasn't until I contacted the gal the next day to see if it came back that I heard the news. Then I had to be the one making all the calls to figure out how to get the appraisal reviewed.

The second issue was this most recent one, wherein Tank of Ta Bearica has decided not to give the loan at all to my guys. Why? Because of something we knew when we went into the process that takes time to fix. 90 days to be exact. And they knew it when we went in as well. We were very upfront about what needed to happen and everyone agreed it could be done. But after jerking us around for a month, they've decided they can't do it. At all. Nice, very nice.

So, because of my previous experience with Tank of Ta Bearica, I had already alerted another lender (and my client) to the possibility of a last minute change. So when it all went to hell in a hand-basket late yesterday, I simply called my client, who then called the backup and we're on our way again with hardly a hiccup in the transfer.

Hopefully, with people who actually give a rat's ass about customer service working with us we'll actually be able to get to closing in one piece. My guys get the house they love in time for the holidays, the backup gets some good word of mouth advertising and I get to tell future clients why I prefer not to work with Tank of Ta Bearica. Because just saying that they're the Devil isn't as compelling as actually proving it with first hand experience.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Antagonizer...

In all her lardy glory

Wednesday, October 14, 2009